ELI Primary Menu

Skip to main content


September 2019

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
September 5, 2019

Co-sponsored by the Plant Based Products Council

An ELI 50th Anniversary Seminar

Millions of tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, killing wildlife and releasing toxins. The scale of this pollution is only expected to increase in the coming decades. Along with approaches like single-use plastic bans and recycling mandates and incentives, the use of bioplastics—polymers made from biomass sources such as vegetable oils, corn starch, and woodchips—has entered the spotlight in recent years as a means of reducing plastic pollution and its impacts.

Proponents claim bioplastics can serve as a biodegradable and less carbon-intensive substitute for plastic, while also making use of materials like food scraps that might otherwise be discarded. Use remains minimal, however, due to the technology’s nascency and higher cost, raising the question of how viable a solution bioplastics present. Moreover, some experts caution that bioplastics may not be environmentally preferable after all, focusing on how some forms do not biodegrade more easily than conventional plastics, or because their production requires the use of land and resources that could otherwise be used to grow food for people.

ELI and the Plant Based Products Council were pleased to provide this exploration of benefits and challenges of an emerging and potentially transformative technology.

Chris Miller
, Partner, AJW, Inc., Moderator
Lisa Anne Hamilton, former Director, Climate and Energy, Center for International Environmental Law
Darby Hoover, Senior Resource Specialist, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Kimberlee Robertella Glinka, former Director, Center for Social Value Creation, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland
Lea Maguero, Environment & Sustainability Manager, Biopak Pty Ltd

ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

September 6, 2019

An ELI Signature Master Class

To get to the scale we need to address climate, biodiversity, human rights, and other environmental and social challenges, we need strategies to increase private sector participation in collaborative sustainability initiatives. In the United States we now have over 30 years of experience with voluntary environmental, health and safety, and human rights compliance programs. This experience with Private Environmental Governance (PEG) is powerful and was the focus of this Master Class, featuring legal and policy experts covering the legal and reglationship issues that arise from voluntary collaborative initiatives.

8:30 AM

Registration & Light Refreshments

9:00 AM

Opening Remarks:  John Pendergrass, Vice President, Programs and Publications, Environmental Law Institute

9:15 AM

Panel 1: Navigating the Legal Risks of Private Environmental Programs

Panel 1 covered experience with individual company programs, including legal risks and opportunities that arise from setting individual company performance and purchasing standards, and related reporting.

Who starts an initiative? Why go beyond compliance? What legal considerations are there in establishing your company's own environmental, social, or governance program? When does a publicized standard create third-party rights? When does it increase or decrease the risk of government enforcement actions? Managing supply chain expectations, data exchange and privacy, and establishing a program that will meet external expectations was the focus of Panel 1.

10:30 AM

Coffee & Networking Break

10:45 AM

Panel 2:  Managing Collaborative Programs

Panel 2 focused on experiences with multi-party programs, including the practical challenges and legal risks associated with working collaboratively with other stakeholders.

Creating Sector Strategies -- To create greater scale, companies in specific sectors have deep experience with voluntary standards and other frameworks to address environmental and social issues. Collaborations with competitors and NGOs can yield widespread environmental benefits, but they also raise complex antitrust and other legal compliance issues.

Ensuring Credibility -- Business-developed standards raise concerns about whether they whitewash (or greenwash) an issue that would be more effectively addressed through regulation or third-party verification. Panelists explored lessons learned on how to create structure and credibility.

  • Cassie Phillips, Director, Private Environmental Governance Initiative, Environmental Law Institute and former Vice President, Sustainable Forestry, Weyerhaeuser, Moderator
  • Hal Hodes, Senior Attorney, National Programs, NAD
  • Elizabeth Seeger, Director, Sustainable Investing, KKR
  • Jennifer Tarr, Associate, Proskauer Rose LLP
 12:00 PM


 12:15 PM

Panel 3: Private Environmental Governance and the Public Sector

Panel 3 focused on the interactions between public and private sector initiatives.

Interfacing with the Government -- At times, the government has sought to encourage private environmental and social compliance programs with mixed success. Are there good examples in which private programs have eliminated the need for environmental or social regulation, or aided in enforcement? Or where the experimentation in private programs has led to better legislative or regulatory solutions?

Lessons Learned for Voluntary, Collaborative Programs -- Sustainability efforts often go beyond the businesses affected and include other stakeholders, especially government. Panelists examined the interactions between public and private environmental initiatives and shared lessons learned. Why do public-priate collaborations arise? What challenges and opportunities do they present for government, NGOs, corporate attorneys, and others? Do they complement or compete with government programs? What training is crucial to fostering success in this area?

  • Michael P. Vandenbergh, David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law; Director, Climate Change Research Network; Co-director, Energy, Environment and Land Use Program, Vanderbilt University Law School, Moderator
  • Daniel Fiorino, PhD, Distinguished Executive in Residence, Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University School of Public Affairs
  • Stephen Harper, Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation
  • Vickie Patton, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund
 1:30 PM Adjournment



ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.


In-person CLE Attendees:

  • We will have a sign-in and sign-out sheet for you to initial and fill out with time total time of attendance for the event.
  • We will provide you with your CLE information at the end of the event.

Webinar CLE Attendees (you must have selected CLE info when you registered):

  • When watching the webinar you will need to have the webinar at the forefront of your computer screen as GoTo webinar software will be tracking attentiveness and creating an attentiveness report.
  • You will need to be watching the webinar for a majority of the time to receive CLE Credit.
  • We will email you the CLE information and certification within one week of the event.


September 9, 2019

Staying on top of the legal and policy developments in the climate change arena is no small task. As a special service to our members, the Environmental Law Institute provides a series of monthly conference calls with national experts on climate law and policy to keep you up to date and to answer your questions.


Topics addressed in this month's call:

  • Recent EPA proposal to withdraw methane-specific emission standards for oil and gas production
  • DC/federal implications of the agreement between auto manufacturers and the State of California
  • Hill developments, including the draft Senate transportation bill and the legislative drafting process being spearheaded by the House E&E Committee
  • Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued an executive order in on July 1 establishing a Montana Climate Solutions Council and requiring the development of a Montana Climate Solutions Plan by June 2020
  • On September 3, 2019, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed Executive Order No. 3 that includes both mitigation and adaptation provisions
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed the state's first Chief Resilience Officer on August 1
  • Multiple petitions to DC Circuit challenging EPA's repeal of Clean Power Plan and promulgation of Affordable Clean Energy Rule
  • Dismissal of lawsuit in Oregon alleging that government's failure to protect plaintiffs from climate change violated their constitutional rights
  • Grant of motion for leave to amend complaint in Conservation Law Foundation's suit against Shell Oil
  • Rhode Island federal district court's remand of the state's climate change lawsuit against oil companies to state court
  • DC Circuit dismissal of challenges to FERC's authorization of Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline
  • Oregon federal court's grant of preliminary injunction barring certain grazing for failure to consider climate change


Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director, Climate Center, Georgetown University
Michael B. Gerrard, Professor, Columbia Law School; Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Robert Sussman, Principal, Sussman & Associates

ELI members logged on to the Members site will have access to a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

ELI Monthly Climate Briefings are made possible by the
generous support of our institutional members.

NOTE: This call/recording is for ELI members only. No comments may be quoted
or used without the express written permission of ELI and the panelist.

September 10, 2019

Co-Sponsored by ELI and the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU Law

An ELI Member Seminar

A wave of groundwater connection claims and concerns have been sweeping the nation resulting in conflicting federal court decisions and interpretations of the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA). On November 6, the Supreme Court will hear the argument in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund to potentially resolve the conflicting lower court decisions. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an interpretative statement in April announcing the CWA does not cover releases of pollutants from a point source to groundwater regardless of a connection between the groundwater and jurisdictional protected waters.  

What are the implications of EPA’s announcement and a possible Supreme Court decision in Maui next year? How would a potential new CWA landscape impact practitioners and officials across the U.S. as they attempt to progress their interests? What opportunities exist to advance legislative strategies, and how might a final “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule further affect these decisions? Our panelists confronted these questions and explored the multifaceted challenges and opportunities facing states, industries, and federal agencies.

James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney, Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Julia Anastasio, Esq., Executive Director and General Counsel, Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA)
Sean G. Herman, Associate, Hanson Bridgett LLP
Joshua Segal, Special Assistant Attorney General, Maryland Office of the Attorney General

ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

September 10, 2019

Presented by the D.C. Environment & Energy Associations*
Sponsored by Beveridge & Diamond PC

Our fall reception featured two outstanding speakers who shared tips to help enhance networking skills to further your career. Our events are both a chance to meet and greet professional colleagues and to learn invaluable networking tools.

Anne E. Collier, MPP, JC, PC, Chief Executive Officer, Arudia
Carol Ann Siciliano, Acting Deputy General Counsel for Environmental Media and Regional Law Offices, Office of General Counsel, Environmental Protection Agency

*The D.C. Environment & Energy Associations group is comprised of area organizations focused on environmental and energy policy and law. This event is co-sponsored by: Energy Bar Association; Environmental Law Institute; Women in Government Relations; Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia, Energy and Environmental Law Forum; Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment; Women’s Energy Network.

September 11, 2019

An ELI 50th Anniversary Seminar

In an era when agricultural sustainability is strained by rapid population growth and the detrimental effects of climate change, regulatory officials face increasing pressure to ensure global food security.  Gene engineering presents vast possibilities for public health and food security transformations, from the capacity to reduce the spread of disease-carrying insects to dramatically increasing crop yields. At the same time, however, many have expressed concern about the environmental, health, and ethical impacts of genetic engineering.

Nicole E. Negowetti
, Lecturer on Law and Clinical Instructor, Animal Law and Policy Clinic, Harvard Law School, Moderator
Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director, Center for Food Safety
Keith A. Matthews, Of Counsel, Wiley Rein LLP

ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

September 17, 2019

Cosponsored by the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Environmental Justice Committee

Nine of the warmest years on record have occurred since 2005, and approximately 60 percent of the world is expected to experience monthly temperature records every year if greenhouse gas emissions fail to decline. The 2003 European and 2010 Russian heat waves killed an estimated 70,000 and 55,000 people, respectively. This July’s heat wave set all-time high temperature records across Europe, and the deadly heat wave that blanketed much of the United States this summer also broke records. As climate change drives increases in global average surface temperatures, the heat wave season is expanding by as many as 40 days in many U.S. cities. Heat wave-related mortality is expected to increase and will hit hardest our most vulnerable populations, including low-income, disabled, homeless, and elderly residents. Heat waves are a critical public health problem, and the public’s vulnerability to heat waves is strongly influenced by the social and physical environment.

Local governments are on the front lines of responding to heat waves as cities around the globe shatter high temperature records. In urban centers, heat waves are exacerbated by the urban heat island effect, when the built environment absorbs and retains heat. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, absent action to reduce global emissions, nearly one-third of the nation’s 481 urban areas with a population of 50,000 or more will experience an average of 30 or more days with a heat index above 105°F by mid-century, up from just three cities historically. This will expand to more than 60 percent – 300 of 481 cities – by the end of the century. Without additional adaptation or acclimatization, a no-action scenario would result in an additional 9,300 heat-related deaths across the country each year.

But many cities in the United States are taking action. Localities are in the position to make a difference, bearing direct responsibility for decisions affecting public safety, land use, building codes, infrastructure, and public health. Some are investing in urban planning and building strategies, such as cool roofs and increasing tree canopy coverage. Others have developed heat wave emergency response plans and enacted laws requiring landlords to conform with maximum rates to power air conditioning, while considering impacts on the power grid.

Our expert panel of municipal officials, public health experts, and legal scholars discussed innovative strategies localities can take to become “Cool Cities” in a world that is rapidly heating up.

Cynthia R. Harris
, Deputy Director, Environmental Law Institute’s Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs (Moderator)
Mark Hartman
, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Phoenix
Sean Hecht, Co-Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law
Kathryn Goldman, Climate Adviser, City of Los Angeles
Surili Sutaria Patel, M.S., Deputy Director of the Center for Health Policy at the American Public Health Association (APHA)

Kathryn Goldman presentation
Cynthia Harris presentation

Mark Hartman presentation
Sean Hecht presentation
Surili Sutaria Patel presentation

September 19, 2019

An ELI WELL (Women in Environmental Law & Leadership) Seminar

A recent study conducted by Dr. Chelsea Liu, Are women greener? Corporate gender diversity and environmental violations, examining nearly 2,000 environmental lawsuits filed in the United States district courts found that generally speaking firms with greater gender diversity on their board are significantly less likely to violate environmental laws. Yet, women hold only 15% of board seats, and merely 4% of board chairs, in North America. Increased gender diversity within the boardroom can allow for a wider range of viewpoints, heightened creativity, and a more robust knowledge base. Thus, through fostering a gender-diverse team of board members, businesses can limit their potential environmental risks and embrace women in the decision-making process.

How does greater gender diversity on companies’ boards result in a reduction of environmental violations? What are the best methods for companies to foster gender diversity in the boardroom? How can female leaders help their companies help themselves by advocating for women? Panelists will confront these questions and more as they reflect on women’s unique attitudes toward environmental protection; supported by a recent collaborative university study revealing green attitudes are often perceived as more feminine choices by men. Our panelists dove into women’s increased likelihood to engage in socially responsible business practices including environmental responsibility, women’s perspectives toward risk-taking in business, and the inherent values carried forward by females into the boardroom as explored in a multi-university survey on current Directors and CEOs of public firms and their values.

Jane Luxton
, Partner, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, formerly General Counsel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Moderator
Sally Fisk, Assistant General Counsel, PGS & EHS Compliance Lead, Pfizer Inc.
Chelsea Liu, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, University of Adelaide Business School
Kathleen McQuiggan, Wealth Advisor, Artemis Financial Advisors

Sally Fisk presentation
Chelsea Liu presentation
Jane Luxton presentation
Kathleen McQuiggan presentation

Additional Materials:
How to Become a Board Member: A Step-by-Step Guide for Women on Joining Nonprofit and Corporate Boards

September 24, 2019

An ELI 50th Anniversary Seminar

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are marine spaces where human activities are more strictly regulated than the surrounding waters. Established in over 65 countries and territories, MPAs embody a range of habitats including open oceans, coastal areas, inter-tidal zones, and estuaries. MPAs enable the provision of fundamental ecosystem services, the protection of marine biodiversity and cultural resources, and provide spaces in which to conduct cutting-edge research and implement innovative policies. Yet, the management of MPAs can face challenges including the lack of adequate tools, rules to secure comprehensive monitoring, the vastness of the ocean, and more.

How do agencies work together to establish these areas both domestically and internationally? What are the innovative technologies that can aid in the monitoring of MPAs? How are MPAs enforced? Panelists engaged in these questions and more as they explored groundbreaking technologies, innovative MPA frameworks, and examples of successful domestic and international MPAs.

Xiao Recio-Blanco
, Director, Ocean Program, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
John Amos, President, SkyTruth
Wynn Carney, Special Agent, Office of Law Enforcement, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Monica Goldberg, Chief Counsel, Oceans, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

Supplemental Materials:
NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Priorities FY 2018-2022 (March 1, 2018)

Presentation Materials:

ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

September 25, 2019

An ELI Public Seminar held in conjunction with Climate Week NYC 2019

To buy, or not to buy? That is the question. As sustainability practices become progressively more essential to conscious investors and stakeholders, they are increasingly inspecting the sustainability practices of companies and businesses in merger and acquisition transactions. This seminar will kick off an Environmental Law and Finance Series to be held throughout 2019-2020.

What obstacles and opportunities do businesses face when determining disclosure about sustainability practices? What are the best methods to address potential materiality issues and other issues associated with merger and acquisition transactions? How do these matters impact environmental finance and law more broadly? Panelists engaged in these questions and dove into industry-specific disclosure standards for companies, best sustainability practices as a function of environmental due diligence, and how these practices are relevant for stakeholders looking at companies or businesses.

Richard Horsch
, Retired Partner of Counsel, White & Case LLP, Moderator
Merrill Fliederbaum, Assistant General Counsel, Environmental Law Group, Pfizer Inc.
Urvashi Kaul, Adjunct Assistant Professor, International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Seth Kerschner, Partner, White & Case LLP
Tavia Rutledge, Principal, Ramboll

ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

September 26, 2019

An ELI Public Seminar

Leading experts in environmental law and the Supreme Court, Professors Jody Freeman and Richard Lazarus offered an overview of major take-aways from the Court’s last term, including significant decisions for environmental lawyers, before transitioning to discuss both upcoming term cases and continuing cases.

Freeman & Lazarus reflected on the Supreme Court’s rulings about, among other things, the extent to which federal courts should defer to agency interpretations of their own regulations (Kisor v. Wilke), the scope of the National Park Service’s authority over “public lands” under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act  (Sturgeon v. Frost); the ability of landowners to bring regulatory takings challenges to state land use restriction in federal court in the first instance (Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania); the meaning of “critical habitat” under the Endangered Species Act (Weyerhaeuser Co. v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service); and the extent to which the federal Atomic Energy Act preempts  a state’s law ban on uranium mining on non-federal lands (Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren).

They also discussed cases and rulings to watch in the upcoming term, including those concerning whether the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act preempts state litigation seeking cleanup remedies that may conflict with EPA-ordered remedies (Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian); and whether the Clean Water Act prohibits the unpermitted discharge of pollutants into groundwater that eventually flows into protected navigable waters (County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund).

Lastly, panelists highlighted continuing court cases including Juliana v. US, which raises a novel claim that the federal government violated the rights of children by promoting and not preventing activities causing dangerous levels of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

Jody Freeman
, Director, Environmental and Energy Law Program, Archibald Cox Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Richard Lazarus, Howard and Katherine Aibel Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Presentation slides

ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.

September 27, 2019

An ELI 50th Anniversary Seminar

In an age of digital technologies, the repercussions of a cyberattack expand beyond the digital domain to include environmental and human-safety threats. A cyberattack on an energy grid can result in widespread interruptions to the daily lives of communities. Yet, the energy network of the United States is less like a national grid and more of a patch-work, with each state and utility uniquely equipped, and thus susceptible, to cyberattacks. While advancing the infrastructure and resiliency of states' energy systems can mitigate cyberattacks, numerous environmental impacts can develop as a result of increased electricity generation, storage, and transportation.

How can cybersecurity be prioritized to strengthen energy grid infrastructures and improve local power security? What steps should be taken by states and local utilities to become more in sync with one another when addressing cybersecurity? How can stakeholders ensure environmental protection while advancing the energy grid? Panelists confronted these questions and more as they tackled energy security and environmental safeguarding.Our panelists explored how to protect the environment as energy systems become increasingly advanced, how utilities and corporations can balance the need for new investments into cybersecurity and the costs for customers, and address the inconsistencies between cybersecurity procedures.

Tara C. Clancy, Partner, K&L Gates LLP, Moderator
Michael F. Ahern, P.E., Director, Power Systems, Instructor, Foisie Business School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Jeffrey J. Meagher, Partner, K&L Gates LLP
Mike Steinmetz, Adjunct Faculty, Wood College of Advancing Studies, Boston College

Sorry, due to technical difficulties, there is no recording of this event...

Add to calendar